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Dewey Lambdin

The Invasion Year

(Lewrie – 17)

This one is dedicated to Forrest

Forrest was my shadow, and my foot-warmer under the desk whenever I wrote even a short letter, much less a chapter of the books, and I miss that very much, too.

“Nathan Bedford,” my “little general,” and his “bubba” Mosby’s groomer, fellow prankster, and “hot water bottle” on cool nights. Forrest was white-furred, with a grey tail, ears and nose, and the brightest, widest jade green eyes. He was an ambusher, a talker who’d hold long conversations with me, or any message left on the phone, and could purr louder than any other cat I can remember. He was only 9? when he left this life on July 2nd, 2010, and Mosby and I miss him very much, and wish he could have stayed with us many years more-if only to help Mosby open every under-counter cabinet door in the house, or lay side by side to “paddle” all the sliding closet doors open so they could get inside and prowl.

Forrest, I give you the Sunday wardroom toast,

“Absent Friends.”

Pateant montes silvacque lacusque

cunctaque claustra maris; spes et metus omnibus esto

arbiter. Ipse locos terrenaque summa movendo

experiar, quaenum populis longissima cunctis

regna valim linquamque datas ubi certus habenas.

Let mountains, forests, lakes

and all the barriers of ocean open out before them;

hope and fear shall decide the day for all alike.

I myself by shifting the seat of empire upon earth

shall make trial which kingdom I shall elect to let

rule longest over all peoples, and in whose hands I

can without fear leave the reins of power once bestowed.

~

ARGONAUTICA, BOOK I 556-560

GAIUS VALERIUS FLACCUS

PROLOGUE

Vae victis.

Woe to the vanquished.

~ HISTORY , BOOK X

TITUS LIVIUS (LIVY)

59 B.C.-17 A.D.

CHAPTER ONE

“Damme, but I do despise the bloody French!”

“Understandably, sir,” the First Lieutenant softly agreed.

“Their bloody general, Rochambeau,” Captain Alan Lewrie, RN, further gravelled, “he’d surrender t’that murderous General Dessalines and his Black rebel army, but he’s too damned proud t’strike to us?”

“Well, Dessalines did give them ten days’ truce to make an orderly exit, sir,” Lt. Westcott pointed out. “Else, it would have been a massacre. Another, really.”

“If they don’t come out and surrender to us, soon, it’ll be all ‘Frogs Legs Flambe,’ and Dessalines’ truce be-damned,” Captain Lewrie said with a mirthless laugh as he extended his telescope to its full length for another peek into the harbour of Cap Francois… and at the ships anchored inside, on which the French now huddled, driven from the last fingernail grasp of their West Indies colony.

Evidently, the Black victors of the long, savage insurrection were getting anxious over when the French would depart, too, for those solid stone forts which had guarded the port from sea assault showed thin skeins of smoke, rising not from cook-fires but from forges where iron shot could be heated red-hot, amber-hot, to set afire those ships and all the beaten French survivors aboard them-soldiers, civilians, sailors, women, and children. Root and branch, damn their eyes, Lewrie thought; burn ’em all, root and branch!

He lowered his glass and grimaced as he turned to face his First Officer, Lt. Geoffrey Westcott. “Is it askin’ too much, d’ye imagine, sir, that the Frogs could face facts? Which is the greater failure or shame… admittin’ the rebel slaves beat ’em like a rug, and surrenderin’ t’them… or strikin’ to a civilised foe, like us? They’ve done the first, so… what matters the second?”

“Perhaps it’s the matter of Commodore Loring’s terms, sir,” Lt. Westcott supplied, inclining his head towards their senior officer’s flagship, idling under reduced sail further out to seaward. “He will not let them dis-arm and sail for France on their parole.”

“Be a fool if he did,” Lewrie said with a dismissive snort, “and Admiralty’d never forgive him for it if he did. We’d, escort them to Jamaica, intern their civilians… make the women and kiddies comfortable… Rochambeau and all his officers’d be offered parole, quarters, and funds ’til they’re exchanged…”

“Of course, we’d sling all their sailors and soldiers into the prisoner hulks,” Lt. Westcott added with a touch of whimsy, then, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, said, “And surely some of those French jeunes filles, or fetching young widows… surely some of them are, sir… might find themselves in need of a British officer’s ‘protection’?”

“Hmm, well…,” Capt. Lewrie allowed, rocking on the balls of his feet, making his Hessian boots creak; they were new from a cobbler at Kingston, still in need of breaking in. “I expect you’d be one to make such an offer, Mister Westcott? I warrant you’re a generous soul,” he said with a leer. Since their first acquaintance fitting-out their new frigate at the renewal of the war with France a little after Easter, Lewrie had discovered that Geoffrey Westcott was a Buck-of-The-First-Head when it came to putting the leg over biddable young ladies… almost himself to the Tee, in his younger, frivolous days.

“Well… I hope to be, sir,” Lt. Westcott replied, shrugging in false modesty, or piety (it was hard to tell which), and flashing a brief, teeth-baring grin before turning sober and “salty” once more.

“Wish ye joy of it,” Lewrie said, turning to probe the harbour with his telescope once more.

Cap Francois, casually known as “Le Cap” in better days, had at one time been the richest

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